Krill oil comes from krill - tiny shrimp-like creatures that live in very cold ocean waters. Krill oil has been studied to see if it has health benefits similar to those of fish oil.
Why do people take krill oil?
Krill oil contains EPA and DHA, the same omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, although usually in smaller amounts. EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart. DHA contributes to the normal function of the brain and the normal function of vision. The effects of krill oil have not been researched as thoroughly as those of fish oil. Some preliminary studies suggest that krill oil might be better absorbed in the body than fish oil.
One study of krill oil suggested it was more effective than fish oil in improving elevated cholesterol levels, triglycerides and blood glucose. However, a subsequent trial found no difference between those taking krill oil and those taking fish oil.
Another study suggested that krill oil, like omega-3s in general, might help improve rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and functional impairment.
The European Food Safety Authority has rejected a health claim for krill oil that it helps with the maintenance of joint comfort, saying evidence of a cause and effect has not been proven.
Another study suggested that krill oil may help to ease PMS symptoms and dysmenorrhea, also known as menstrual cramps.
As krill oil becomes more popular, some scientists are concerned about the environmental impact of large-scale krill harvesting. Krill are an important food source for many animals, including whales, seals, and penguins and other birds.
Taking krill oil
Always seek medical advice before taking any new supplement as it could interfere with existing medicines and may not be suitable for some people, such as those with a seafood allergy.
Krill oil can slow blood clotting and could interact with anti-coagulant medications and anti-platelet drugs.
The safety of krill oil for children and pregnant women has not been fully assessed.
Side effects of krill oil include wind, bloating or diarrhoea.